By Connor Armstrong at Meadow Park
Natalia Pablos Sanchon scored twice as Arsenal Ladies comfortably fired five past Sunderland on Saturday.
Two early own-goals by Sunderland captain Stephanie Bannon gave the Gunners the lead, before Natalia doubled the Gunners’ advantage with two well-taken strikes.
Bannon came to Sunderland's rescue in the second half, clearing off the line to deny Vicky Losada, before Natalia was only denied her hat-trick by the offside flag.
Dominique Janssen then added the fifth goal with just 10 minutes left on the clock, before Beth Mead scored a late consolation when she fired in from a tight angle.
Setting the Scene
Pedro Martinez Losa made seven changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Seattle Reign in in the United States last month.
Only Emma Mitchell, Vicky Losada, Jemma Rose and Marta Corredera kept their places in the starting XI, while Sari van Veenendaal replaced Emma Byrne in goal and captain Alex Scott returned to the Gunners’ back line.
Arsenal got off to a flying start when a ball into the box was inadvertently flicked past goalkeeper Rachael Laws by Sunderland captain Bannon in the second minute.
The defender accidentally doubled the Gunners' advantage soon after, when she turned Asisat Oshoala’s low cross over the line from close range.
Natalia then added a third on the half-hour mark, timing her run perfectly to converting a cut-back from Vicky Losada.
Arsenal continued to dominate and Marta Corredera smacked an effort against the inside of the post, before Scott saw a rasping drive palmed away by Law, but the goalkeeper could do nothing to prevent Natalia from doubling her tally before half-time when the Spain forward latched onto a lofted ball to finish.
Arsenal continued to chase more goals in the second half, and nearly found a fifth when Losada was played in by Natalia, but her powerful effort was well held by Laws.
Losada was denied against just two minutes later, when Sunderland captain Bannon cleared off the line to prevent a fifth goal, before Laws pushed the midfielder’s powerful strike away moments later.
Keira Ramshaw then drew a fine save from Sari van Veenendaal at the other end, before Natalia was denied her hat-trick by the offside flag.
Second-half substitute Dominique Janssen added gloss to the scoreline with 10 minutes remaining, when she unleashed a thumping drive from range that nestled in the bottom corner.
With the Gunners cruising to victory, Stephanie Roche rattled the bar late on, before Sunderland forward Beth Mead earned her side a late consolation at the end of an impressive afternoon for Arsenal.
Referee: Stuart Cheek
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